Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 63; 149, Nehemiah 4:1-23, Revelation 7:(4-8) 7:9-17, Matthew 13:31-35
We’ll help our Maker
To make our dreams come true,
But I can’t do it alone,
So here’s what we’re gonna do
You hope and I’ll hurry,
You pray and I’ll plan
We’ll do what’s necessary ’cause
Even a miracle needs a hand
“Even a Miracle Needs a Hand”
by Maury Laws
In the 1974 television special ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, a young mouse who lives in the home of a human clockmaker potentially ruins Christmas for the entire town – twice. This young mouse isn’t much of a believer in anything, but the clockmaker’s song choosing hope over helplessness motivates him to try to fix what he’s broken by embracing both his skills and a little faith.
Now a Christmas special that barely acknowledges Jesus is hardly scripture, but it’s not exactly at odds with scripture either.
When the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem after decades of exile in Babylon, their city was “in ruins with its gates burned.” Just because King Cyrus had released them and allowed them to rebuild the temple didn’t mean they weren’t surrounded by hostile tribes and nations. They decided that in order to restore their security they needed to rebuild the wall which had once surrounded Jerusalem. Their hostile neighbors plotted to stop them, but the citizens of Jerusalem and Jews of the surrounding area gathered, prayed, and planned to move forward. They rebuilt the wall with tools in one hand, weapons in the other, and a firm grip on faith.
When we feel firmly convicted about something, it’s not always enough to have faith it will come to pass; we must learn to recognize when we are called to be an instrument of its realization. And it might not always be in a way we – or others – expect. If for example a church wants to become a weather amnesty shelter, greeting people and providing cots and blankets is only part of the story. Some seemingly less charitable work, such as seeking permits and updating liability insurance, needs to be done in defense of the mission.
Like the Jewish guards on the wall, it may appear some people aren’t doing the heavy lifting (or are impeding it), but their efforts are necessary to make sure it gets done. For one person to place a stone, two may need to stand guard. And it may take someone else calling to us from the middle of the ruins to realize we have any part to play at all.
Further Reading: For thoughts on today’s passage from Matthew, see Mustard Seeds.
Comfort: Even you can be an instrument of God’s work.
Challenge: Remember that because someone is not playing the part that’s important to you doesn’t mean the part they play is unimportant.
Prayer: Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts. (Psalm 125:4)
Discussion: In your faith community, family, or circle of friends, who does the work you are not suited for? What work can you do well that others can not?
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